Ambiguous Role of Immunity in Malignant Neoplasms

Petr Sima, Vaclav Vetvicka, Luca Vannucci


Cancers have been one of the most serious illicit diseases threatening people around the world since ancient times. Their origin, growth and spread thorough the body is accompanied by specific immune manifestations, which of mechanism is in principle identical, but differ in a number of essential aspects. The participation of immunity in the cancerogenesis was not entirely clear until the beginning of the twentieth century, when not much was known about the complexity of the immune system or its functional manifestations. All that was known was that immunity was directed primarily against infectious agents. It was only later that it became clear that there is also an anti-tumor immunity, which not only destroys malignant cells and suppresses their growth, but also selects more viable and  more resistant tumor cells, thereby promoting their growth and metastatic spreading of the tumor. It is just the participation of immunity in the cancerogenesis that allows the use of immunotherapy for treatment of cancer.

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